DESPITE a very tough Munster championship draw, Na Piarsaigh go into this Sunday’s quarter final tie against Loughmore-Castleiney of Tipperary as the 3/1 second favourites to win the provincial title, odds that speak volumes about how highly the city club are rated by Paddy Power bookmakers.
Admittedly, that price is also relatively short because well fancied clubs like De la Salle and Thurles Sarsfields have fallen by the wayside, but instances where Limerick clubs were odds on to beat Tipperary teams at Semple Stadium are extremely rare, so Sunday’s fixture is remarkable just for that alone.
However it’s one thing to start the game as favourites, it’s another thing entirely to end the tie with your season still intact. The Mid Tipp club may not have the stellar reputation of some other sides from across the border, but they have some fine individuals in the form of Liam and Noel McGrath, they proved their battling qualities in a hard fought county final against Nenagh Éire Óg and they too have experience of playing and winning outside of their county. In 2007, after they won only their second ever Dan Breen Cup, they went on to beat Tulla 1-6 to 0-7 in the Munster decider on a miserable day in the Gaelic Grounds.
All that said, a quick look at results in the Tipperary senior championship this year would suggest that the Premier County is not short on depth, but nonetheless perhaps a little bit bereft of elite quality when it comes to this level of hurling. This is the same Loughmore team that was comfortably beaten by Drom and Inch in this year’s mid Tipp final, while their other six games this year were all won, but only by a combined total of fifteen points – they’ve won their championship with a scoring difference of zero. They’ve mastered the art of grinding out victories, but that shouldn’t be enough against a team of Na Piarsaigh’s proven quality.
However while Na Piarsaigh winning the game at 8/11 will be a popular punt, Keep an eye out for odds of 7/4 or better around the visitors keeping a clean sheet here. Defensively, Na Piarsaigh are decent, with just six goals conceded in six games. Loughmore, for their part, have scored just five in seven outings. That would suggest that on average, the Tipp men would raise one green flag over the course of the hour of play, if that. With more wintry conditions now settling in and the pressure of provincial championship honours on the line, they might do well to even get that.
by Kevin Egan